Wednesday, 6 October 2021

A first time PSLE mama

Today I celebrate the daughter's hard work for the past 6 years in primary school, I celebrate surviving this journey with her as a first time PSLE mama, and I celebrate keeping tuition out of schedule till this day. I do need to share our strategy, but will keep that for another post. On top of this celebratory mood, it's the man and my 15th wedding anniversary. How apt that it falls nicely with the daughter's last paper. 

Six primary school years may have been long, but it bolts by once your child begins primary school. Over the years, the daughter grew so much in wisdom, strength and independence. There's so much more to rejoice than just how well she conquered the exams. Just thinking of our education system, raising a kid in Singapore is no easy feat. I do deserve a pat on my shoulder on this journey done well.

PSLE is a big acronym. Every child's know. I was so filled with nervousness and worries as the exam days neared, feeling even more intense when her first paper began. It felt like I was going for the exam! But how to stay calm?! It's a nationwide exam that paves the path ahead. The better you do, the wider and brighter your options are! And of course, coming from a parent who doesn't do academic enrichment, I had our expectations very much managed, but not without the absence of worries.


PSLE is over!

First paper went well, she said it wasn't easy, but manageable. Then came Maths, my heart sank when she related that she was mentally challenged by a few questions. I felt my heart-aching for her, but I know that's how notorious our Maths has been. It's not to devastate anyone, but to distinct those who are able and unable to do, to facilitate scores differentiation when it comes to results and school selections. There's just this allocated vacancies in the popular schools, and it doesn't go to everyone. In this new scoring system, where more possible scores fall in the same Achievement Level (AL) range, there is a stronger urge to define.

The daughter related that her classmates were in tears and upset that they couldn't do some questions, or complete the paper. This is a scene not sighted only at PSLE. It happens at all other exams, be it mid year or prelims. We have every parental right to teach and guide them through those moments, growing their mindset. The comfort here is that, majority feels the same. No one is alone.

Not that questions set were out of syllabus, they were a test of learnt concepts with in-depth thinking skill. I've to say though, luck plays some part in the years they do their PSLE. Some years, we do not even get any uproar from parents and some years, we hear noise. Exams are not meant to be easy that everyone aces it the same way. It has to be distinct. No doubt, the years have not been easy with much disruptions to curriculum plans and lessons. But I wouldn't be content if the kids did an easier PSLE based on compassionate grounds. On the other hand, why aren't parents blaming their tuition centres for not preparing the kids well? The amount of fees have to justify right?! I wasn't upset, or outrage at all. It's just the way things are when we try to be rational about it. Rather than trying to find excuses or fault.

We can take the opportunity to teach resilience, not blame. Resilience is such a powerful trait that encompasses the elements of self-control, emotional awareness, positivity, reasoning, self care, patience and so many more! It's key to positive character building. In midst of teaching our child, we learn in the process too. We learn to choose our words and reactions meaningfully. Are we mindful in speaking encouragement and kindness to our dejected child? It's definitely not the time to bring forth the tiger in us. Praise should be made culture in parenting.

The last we want to exemplify is to fault find in others and on the things that won't change. Be it the course of an event or outcome. If it does, it sets an unpleasant precedence for the PSLEs ahead. Anyway, what goes behind any consideration is not something visible to us. Instead, let's focus on helping our kids take responsibility and learning into their own hands, grow in strength, resilience and most importantly kindness. Have good thoughts and speak uplifting words. The world is harsher than this math paper. Life did not promise a bed of roses.  

To our surprise, the daughter gave us softie and 'Thank You' card each. For guiding and encouraging her through the years to this day.

Thank you cards the daughter gave us
 

Let's raise a generation of strong and kind warriors! Where each trial, test and exam is a new found maturity for our child. 

What's over is unchangeable. Celebrate because both child and parents have partnered hard. While Helen and Ivan are busy weighing their coins, we shall take time to do the things we really enjoy before life starts getting busy again next year. Consider now till the release of results, what our expectations are and how will we manage them. I'm sure another nervous mama as we near that day! Let's always remember that love is unconditional, whatever the grades are. 

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

[Review + Giveaway] The Durian Bakery

Going for durian bakes isn't my usual kind of thing. That's because I'm a a 101% durian lover and I would always prefer to go for the real thing. Unprocessed durian, right from its shell. 

The Durian Bakery changed my eating experience. Durian bakes and pastries taste almost as good and satisfying, especially made with fresh durians delivered from the plantation, in Pahang, Malaysia.

We had the Dark Chocolate Musang King Durian Mille Crepe Cake which was extremely rich creamy. Made with 39 layers in total - 20 layers of thin handmade crepe skin and 19 layers of thick durian puree. The cake is layered with their signature MSW SilkyGold™ durian puree, blended through a special process to make it extra creamy, and just as tasty as the durian itself! Though creamy, it doesn't make you sick of eating as the crepe skin evens out the cream, giving you a balanced taste.

The cake weighs about 1 to 1.1kg and is sized at about 8 inches, making a good birthday cake option for any durian lover.

Dark Chocolate Musang King Durian Mille Crepe Cake

 

Along with the cake, we also had their Mao Shan Wang Pastries Taster Bundle, which is highly recommended on their website. This bundle consists of:

The choux puffs are filled with a luscious and decadent durian filling of D24. Their signature mochi with a soft core are filled with purely just D24 Durians, making a tiny and easy in between the fingers snack. We like savouring them semi-frozen.  

 

Cake and taster bundle

The savory dark chocolate mousse is made with fresh musang king durian pureed, whipped into a thick creamy texture. We specially love the crunchy crust base, giving each mouthful a nice durian crunch. With every mouth, you could also taste the natural bitter-sweetness of their signature SilkyGold™ Durian Puree. Topped with sinfully rich dark chocolate, it gives an extremely creamy texture and is wonderfully delicious.

Dark chocolate mousse
 

The bakes and pastries are made with high quality, carefully selected ingredients and unique blend of flour ratio - standardized 11.7 % of protein content with highest wheat germ level. Wheat germ is high in vitamin E, an essential nutrient with antioxidant properties. And most essentially, the bakes and pastries are all freshly baked without preservatives. They do have eggless cake options too.

Burp! It's been a while since we had some nice durian cake and pastries. Which have all earned a thumbs up from us. 

Recommended by: best in Singapore

Giving away!

[GIVEAWAY] Hop over to our Instagram post to join our giveaway of one Dark Chocolate Musang King Durian Mille Crepe Cake worth $108!

 

Disclaimer: Sponsored post


Monday, 27 September 2021

PSLE Fuel pack

This is the week, the week where PSLE begins. The year that our eldest is taking this major exam, after 6 years of completing primary school. How did time fly?!

The final 2 years leading up to national exams had been rough. Our school going children were navigating in and out of uncertainties, toggling between physical school and home based learning. We thought 2020 was trying enough for them, then came 2021 which didn't look any prominent. 

Pandemic is truly full of surprises.

Now that we are days away from the first paper, I've to say I'm even more anxious. Not about the daughter's readiness of knowledge in battling the papers, but about keeping her and everyone in the family safe and healthy, away from covid. It's highly important that she gets to sit for the papers, the final lap and wrap after all these primary years. No doubt, the challenge is tough with the unseen virus, in an uncontrollable situation. You won't know when the virus hits, or when a quarantine order or leave of absence will be issued. 

It has been a year of twists and turns for them. Adding on to the many changes, these kids are the pioneer batch of students to the new AL scoring system, as well as the youngest within the community qualified for vaccination. I can imagine the chaos that their minds have been going through.

I declare our P-Sixers as warriors! Warriors who adapted, who stood strong through changes and showed resilience in the times of uncertainties. And like some previous years, where I made fuel packs for our PSLE friends, I made one for the daughter and some of our friends this year. It was so much more specially made because it's the daughter turn.  

I hunted down for relevant items and ideas to complement exam tips. This is one that can be easily assembled for any child who's conquering exams ahead.

PSLE Fuel pack

Here are our 15 exam tips for battling the upcoming exam: 

Tip 1: Stickers are lovely for decorating revision notes (Item: Stickers)

Tip 2: Sticky notes are great ways to set visible reminders (Item: Sticky note pad)

Tip 3: Add colours to revision (Item: Colourful washi tape. Skittles candy is great too)

Tips 1 to 3

Tip 4: Music helps relax the mind (Item: Mini musical box)

Tip 5: Erase the 't' in can't. You can do it! (Item: Eraser)

Tip 6: Run the day with a schedule. Balance study and play (Item: Schedule pad)

Tips 4 to 6

Tip 7: Make notes to capture important learning points (Item: Ring cards)

Tip 8: Keep break time in mind (Item: Kit Kat)

Tip 9: A nutritious breakfast starts the day well (Item: Cereal. I used granola bar for some boxes too)

Tips 7 to 9

Tip 10: Energy is everything that keeps you going (Item: Milo)

Tip 11: Vitamin C boosts immunity (Items: Yummy earth pops and Ribena gummies)

Tip 12: Bookmark revision pages (Item: Sticker markers)

Tips 10 to 12

Tip 13: Study hard, study smart (Item: Smarties)

Tip 14: Highlight important key points (Item: Highlighter)

Tip 15: Do a twist dance after every hard work (Item: Twisties)

Tips 13 to 15

 

A little cheer amidst the gloom. I hope our little warriors will conquer their papers in good health and in good confidence. As always, best effort counts. 

All the best to all our PSLE children nationwide!

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Promises we make to our kids

My littlest went to school and told his friends that his mama is a cheater!

The label I had to bear for not bringing him to the beach as promised. Fatigue must have gotten in the way when I casually brushed it aside and said, "let's go another day." While I was upset that he 'shamed' me in school, I got shook up to be reminded that kids take promises very seriously. In words and in plans, promises are substantial to them. Even though it seems trivial to us at times.

That very week, I put procrastination to a halt, hurriedly flowed the promises into the weekend. We did the beach and had his favourite prata for breakfast the next day. Procrastination, saying 'later' and intentionally forgetting are often our convenient excuses. It may seem acceptable in the short run, but spells trouble and distrust in the long run. 

 

 Best day ever!

 

Keeping promises help us, parents gain respect, teaches our children to trust us, makes them feel heard and important. In the many years of our parenting journey, there were umpteen times we tell our child, "you promised mama that.... ", but in midst, we neglected that promises are both ways. 

The comfort is that we aren't always able to avoid breaking promises, and I confess, I am a repeated offender. Along the years, I have learnt not to make promises out of their tantrums, not to make promises out of my convenience and of course, never promise under the influence of their ridiculous threats. If promises don't happen due to genuine reasons, don't guilt trip, it just means the opportunity for us to explain why. 

There's a reason why children forgive and forget easily. Having said that, I do believe they retain selected memories.

In this fast pacing world, we are so often submerged by work, and sometimes fatigue and laziness, while weekend is highly precious to us for recuperating, it is also only the child's opportunity to have more time with the family. Simple promises aren't usually tough to keep to, the tough is finding time to do so. Simple as promises may be, they bring much joy and love to the child when we keep to our words. 

Promises are the foundation of a relationship. 

As I write, I got reminded that I owe the big boy a promise. One that I blurted out too casually and confidently in thoughts that he will not achieve a certain target, but he did! And I have to now follow through the promise, or perhaps find a way to negotiate it out.

But first, let me correct the littlest that it's not all right to shame his Mama before his friends.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

[REVIEW & DISCOUNT CODE] myFirst Sketch Book

Write. Save and Sync.

Not your ordinary sketchbook tablet, myFirst Sketch Book from Oaxis is one that allows you to save every single masterpiece of your child's drawing. It allows drawing without papers or mess, saves drawing with its built-in memory function, which can be digitalised and instantly shared for family and friends to view!

MyFirst Sketch Book
 
Simply transfer each work to your preferred device by pairing with myFirst Sketch Book app. It's extremely amazing to watch your child's hand-drawn sketches take on a new life via the digital app. There are more enhance features through the app that work simultaneously with this drawing tablet for kids. The kids could complete their portrait by adding colours, adjusting the font thickness, pens, tip size to their drawings from the synced device. It creates a different feel of writing and drawing on this digital sketch pad. 
 
Save the completed work and put it onto your phone's wallpaper if you like! 
 

Minion drawn!
 
This portable 10" Sketch Book comes thoughtfully with a stylus, a USB cable and free leather case for easy carry out. A good lightweight (335g) companion for kids on the go anywhere and anytime. It works independently without an app too, if your child would like to just draw (without colours), and erase or save. 
 
Before Use
1. Charge the Sketch Book for about 8 hours, till the indicator light turns off.  
2. Charge the Stylus Pen for about an hour, till the indicator light turns off.
3. Download the Sketch Book App 
 
And you're all set to draw away! Each charge lasts about 2 weeks, which is long lasting and much hassle free. 
 
The boys very much enjoy drawing and bringing their creations to live. 2 seconds is all it takes to turn on the sketchbook to pour on some inspirations. And if they forgot to turn it off, it smartly goes to sleep after an hour of inactivity. The stylus too, it goes to sleep after 4 minutes of inactivity. 

Realtime Drawing
This feature allows you to draw on the Sketch Book as it synchronises with the synced device. Which means, they are both being drawn concurrently. Really amazing!

Realtime drawing
 
Little guy decorated his myFirst Sketch Book with the stickers included. No idea what's he was drawing though, but this device is a wonderful milestone tracker of their doodles if we save and treasure every piece of work in this artistic journey theirs.


Sounds really cool right?! Get your seamless and paperless experience today! We have got you covered with a 15% discount code, use MUMSCALLING15 upon check out at Oaxis. We think this makes a wonderful gift too! Shop away. 


Disclaimer: Sponsored post. All photos and opinions are solely ours.
 

Monday, 14 June 2021

Water Filter with Filtech

Do you use a water filter in your home?

Our tap water is among the cleanest in the world. And even so, water filter in Singapore is common in many households. Getting a water filter very much depends if you are seeking to remove contaminants from  water or modify the components of water. These are the two broad categories of water filter.

We are currently using Filtech, Xeltro CT22 – Countertop Twin Water Filter, for cleaner and better-tasting water with its 7 Layer ultra twin filtration. It filtrates up to 99.99% of impurities, bacteria and chlorine, as well as, rust present in our water supply. While it is acclaimed that our water source may be clean, the pipes may not. Corrosion happens. The removal of rust present is water through pipes give a good peace of mind.

 

Filtech Water Filter

 

The 7 Layer Filtration Technology Filtech Technology uses to ensure clean and purified water:

1. The first filtration process begins with a 5mm thick ceramic filter engineered to filter large particles while preserving minerals intact.

2. A Far Infrared Ray (FIR) FIR layer is used to help soften hard water, eliminating offensive odors and preventing bacterial growth.

3. This ion exchange process percolates water through bead-like spherical resin materials (ion-exchange resins).

4. The anti-bacterial ions kill bacteria and deter bacterial growth by breaking down the bacterial cell membranes.

5. The alkaline medium raises the ph level of the water which aids in neutralising acid in your body.

6. The granular activated carbon incorporates absorption and catalytic reduction for purification efficiency.

7. This final stage utilizes Filtech’s micro-porous fibre membrane for further pervasive particle exclusion filtration.

 

Photo credit: Filtech
 

This water purifier set comes with a 3 mode-switch: Filtered, Unfiltered Shower and Unfiltered Stream. Unfiltered for your washing and filtered when you need your drink. 

Unfiltered Shower
 

Unfiltered Stream

 

Filtered

Though the manual that came with it was rather vague, the setting up was easy. It didn't specify how much initial water is needed to drain before water gets totally cleaned, but we drained about 2 litres for peace of mind. The initial flow of water was carbon black after which it gradually clears up.

This water purifier set costs $223.90, and comes with a one year warranty. Replace filter at $59.40, scheduled to replace every 8 months, 6000 litres. It is extremely important to replace it on schedule. Not doing so encourages the growth of bacteria in your filter, that's when safe clean water becomes a risk. 

Need an air purifier instead? You may check out Filtech too. Enjoy Free Delivery on all orders above $80. I will need a stock up on filter soon.

 

Disclaimer: Sponsored post


Monday, 24 May 2021

Resigning from a Stay at Home Mum

I have tendered my resignation from a stay at home mum. It's been 8 years staying home with the kids. It wouldn't have been this accidental if our family didn't re-locate to California, Monterey. That was when I left my last job to go as a family. Contributing in a corporate world had always been my ideal. I was all ready to embark onto a life of working mum when we returned from Monterey. But we had plans for a third child.

Which not long later, our eldest progressed into primary school. We realised it was tough to leave her transportation to the school bus. It meant extreme early wakes and late home arrivals. Gradually, I withdrew from the thoughts of going back to work, just so I could chauffeur, tutor, keep the house in order and put home cooked meals on the table. The desire of going back to work was always on the back of my mind. Just a matter of time.

Endlessly, tirelessly and uncomplainingly, I did these with no salary, no bonuses and no leaves, not even medical leaves. The purest form of love and sacrifice defined. These were not possible with deciding to live within the means of single income. We were prudent with our spending, we ate home more than out, and I banished the act of 'shopping' out of my world. After all, the needs of a stay at home mum are extremely down-to-earth. A few good dresses which I already have, and many inexpensive shorts and tees for working the chores in home.

When our second child made it to primary school too, I began to feel the morning void. CCAs kicked in and the kids spend more time in school than before. I knew I needed to be more useful with my personal self. No, blogging and social media-ing are not jobs. They are hobbies. And just last year end, the littlest started full day preschool. I couldn't find any more satisfaction staying home. There’s a stigma around being a stay at home mum, and society doesn’t talk about the loneliness, isolation, and loss of identity that sometimes accompanies this choice. These are real emotions. I will not lie that being a stay at home Mum is always fulfilling. Like any job, there's the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

The kids' junior years are also my prime working years. It's either now or never. I'll probably end up working in a fast food joint if I were to continue sitting in the comfort zone of staying home.

A job opportunity dangled below my nose 2 months ago, I took it on full time without much hesitation. It was time I had do something for myself. The job comes with the flexibility of time, which I'm grateful for. I'm glad to be back into the bigger society, working my mind with bigger opportunities and the healing to fill that empty nest syndrome.

Fast forward today, the eldest is already in the final year of primary school. The most important year with that grand PSLE battle, and I started a full time job. I'm not sure what's ahead, but in our years of having laid the foundation of home routines, it is without worries. I'm contented to have been with them in the large part of their growing years. The kids have grown, we have no more babies although we insist the youngest is still one. Our way of curbing with the pain of growing kids.

And no, there is no replacement a family can get to fill the job of a stay at home mum. I will double up because God made Mothers amazingly strong and awesomely capable in managing the fort.

 
Yes, weekends are so much more precious now


Friday, 14 May 2021

Getting the covid fatigue

Covid fatigue is the exhibiting symptoms of tiredness and exhaustiveness due to the many measures in placed that were very much different from a lifestyle we used to have. This new normal has been long running, a marathon that never seemed to end. 2020 bolted like a year that never existed, but the number in age moved. 2021 seemed promising, until it turned at the flip of a switch. Not very much impacted, but it feels like the race has no finishing line.

The kids are at the prime stages of growing up where many exciting milestones are not fully experienced. I am getting impatient with the progress and efforts of containing covid. It's no joy. 

The kids photos taken in school are all masked up. I can't watch the littlest do his swim classes like I did with the older two, the public pool is closed very strictly to its maximum capacity. I can't watch live performances of our preschooler like I did with his older two. The kids need their learning journey with schools. The kids need their school camps, assemblies and proper graduation ceremony. The attractions we decide to go last minute are no more accessible like before, advance booking is needed. Activities are capped to fastest fingers due to social distancing measures, meals are confined to time limit due to less seating arrangements in restaurants.

And from 8, it became 5 and now 2 can be gathered socially out. With dining areas closed. For our family of 5 who always move as a tribe, it's as good as staying home. And what about school run mamas who have to pick several kids at one go from school? That flouts the more than 2 gathering rule.

And then, we get the elearning fatigue if schools move to Home Based Learning. Not surprise that schools are always the last decision to halt after society. Or perhaps, it's nicer to phrase it by bringing forward the school holiday. 

The biggest let go will be travelling. It was the most valid reason in our busy days to get off work and routines to focus on family bonding. Travelling is now too vague and far to even think about.

The plans that were firmed became fluid and the exams ahead are uncertain. Sports lessons are moving back to online and so are their music lessons. It's back to what seemed like a circuit breaker, but milder. 

The fatigue of pandemic is hitting gradually hard, not so much for the kids who are mostly adapting, but for parents who are feeling shortchanged for the kids in the many many areas of lost opportunities. This of course is a parenting perception. Above and beyond, there are couples awaiting a grand wedding, there are social butterflies whose happiness is measured by socialising in groups and there are travel enthusiasts who are feeling totally imprisoned.

When can we ditch the masks for good? When can we walk the streets without worry? When can we do big playdates? And when can we travel like we did? When will the freedom we used to have make a come back? It doesn't seem something imaginable now. This truly is an era of a covid century that will make it to History books.

BUT. Like we always say, the world is our best teacher. There is a lesson in everything, and there is thankfulness in every situation. We are not in lack. We are intact as a family, we have peace in where we are and we feel safe even in midst of worries. We do want a life of normalcy back, patience may be running thin but at least we are running the marathon together. 

Being grounded means more time for the daughter to focus on her PSLE revision, and the boys... they will be happy doing more toy reviews. And of course, the fate of preschool operation is another uncertainty. 

More toy reviews ahead!

Emotional fatigue caused by covid is real and affects us all. I think it's important that we find things that make us and our family happy in a way or another. For some, it could be that extra piece of chocolate. Find that little joy in midst.

Better days ahead! 

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Staycation at Shangri-la with kids

We sprinkled some fun and excitement last March holiday by going on a staycation with Shangri-La. The one at Orange Grove road.

I'm not sure what will be your decision in booking a venue for staycation. For us, it will be coming across great deal. We managed to book a 2D1N deal on Lazada for $399 last December, but we're seeing it at $500 now though. So yeap, not sponsored, but sharing for the good benefits of many who will be staycation-ing during this pandemic when travel cannot be in plan. The deal we bought included both lunch and dinner at The Line restaurant, which we reckoned was a very attractive buy.  

Garden Wing Deluxe City View Room 
We were given a deluxe room at the Garden wing with city view and a private balcony. Very much pleased with the room set up that they added a roll in bed for us. We are 2 adults and 3 kids. And of course, they didn't very much approve 5 pax in a room. They suggested we get connecting rooms instead. We love staying cosy, so we did not. 

Deluxe room at Garden wing

Bathroom was spacious with a bathtub, standing shower and two basins. Six bottles of mineral water were given, along with two little packs of preserved snacks. The in room mini bar was empty, not sure why. Perhaps a good way to unsure uneaten snacks remain untouched for next guest. But I think it's good that the kids wouldn't be bugging to snack on this or that. And I was mildly disappointed that our room didn't come with the usual hotel's pen and notepad. We needed a pen to get on a treasure hunt game, and the notepad usually keeps the littlest occupied. 

 
Check-in
Check-in time stated was 3pm. We emailed a week before to request for early check-in and late check-out, but they could only accede the requests based on availability that very day itself. That left us wondering on what time we should be there. Having an indicative time will definitely help us better with the planning, rather than playing with luck. We chanced in at 12pm. Managed to get over the administrative part, but room was only ready at 2.15pm. We had lunch at The Lobby Lounge in between, where it serves local fare like chicken rice, fish soup, katong laksa etc at premium prices. If you are a frequent of Shangri-La, consider signing up for their Golden circle membership where you can accumulate points for every dine and stay. Not valid for deals. We redeemed our points for lunch, and was most satisfied that our bill came up to $1 for 4 main courses at The Lobby Lounge.
 
Welcome packs were given to the kids upon check in. And this delighted the kids much. Adults were given masks and alcohol wipes. It was a nice welcome for all. 
 
Kids welcome packs
 
 
Adults welcome packs

 
Activities
For a night booked, we were entitled to a session of play at buds, their indoor playground, as well as, a session of play at Splash Zone, their outdoor water playground. Buds session is at $18 per hour. Splash Zone is free, and limited to an hour session. It wasn't enough for the kids. I did try booking 2 sessions, but was declined. We managed to book 2 play sessions at buds though, on separate days. Happy kids, happy parents. 

The kids had a great time at Buds, with the slides, climbing structures, ball pits and creative rooms for music playing and painting.

Buds at Shangrila


Buds playground
 
Booking of these kids activities are only upon arrival. We emailed to check if we could pre-book before check-in, but there was no reply. Some hotels do pre-booking of kids activities and pool sessions before check-in, but policies varies. Booking of kids' activities can only be done on that very day itself with a booking site. The slot sessions indicated online were very much fully booked till our check-out time. We were upset for a moment, but was reminded that we can walk in to buds to check on the updated slots instead. And phew, that's where we secured buds and splash zone sessions for the kids. Do check the weather forecast when booking splash zone. 
 
Splash zone

Pirate ship at splash zone

Other hotel activities include a treasure hunt at our own time, own target. A hunt map is given upon check-in, you can start this hunting game while waiting for check-in. Redeem an ice-cream upon completion. The answer to their first question is fluid. So don't get too stuck on that. There are also baking, tie and dye activities which can be booked with additional fees. It's $10 for baking and $28 for tie and dye. We skipped both.

Do consider getting on some activities while waiting on room availability. Just so you can spend more time relaxing in the room instead of running in and out for activities. Badge making activity outside buds is free. Just walk-in.

Facilities 
Swimming pool consists of the swimmer and wading pool. Booking session isn't required but entry is based on first come first serve. We entered at about 9.45am smoothly, but had to leave at 10.25am for our splash zone session. The queue to the pool was insane when we left. Entry is only allowed based on a one in and one out when capacity is full. 
 
Queue to the pool
 
Being an early riser reaps benefits. And don't forget, breakfast may delay you a little. Noon to 3pm seems an off peak, when guests are in midst of checking in and out. And of course, that's the hottest time of the day. But sunshine is always better than rain when it comes to play. So if you don't mind the hot sun, consider dipping into the pool upon arrival until your room is ready, and you can whisk off to shower upon collecting your keys.
The orchid within the hotel's open

We very much enjoy the lush greenery garden within the hotel. Walking around was quite an adventure too.

Meals

We had both dinner and breakfast at The Line. It was ala carte buffet where everything you order will be served to your table. The spread was good and very much satisfying for our tummies. Breakfast did take them quite a while to serve, crowded morning I guess. And that gave us less time for the pool. Not included in our package, we had our next day lunch at Waterfall Ristorante Italiano, which serves southern Italian classics. Very great tasting, and the recommendations on their menu made choices easy.



Check-out
Check out time was at 12 noon. And nope, we didn't score a late check out. Even though we tried reasoning that we needed more shower time, as our splash zone session ends at 11.30am. Was politely declined and told that we could shower at the common bath area. Nice alternative, but not a compassionate and convenient option for us. We dealt with the time tight option of one bathroom. And phew, made it to surrender the keys, albeit 5 minutes late. We sent the man down to return the card keys, while I hurriedly pack through our stuff.

So yeap, it was a wonderful break from routines, and the hustle and bustle. Staycation is the new vacation. Not perpetually I hope. Trekking the globe is still where we hope to be getting back on.

Friday, 9 April 2021

A resin art party!

Here's the other part of Jazz's birthday celebration at home with her school friends. We hosted a resin art party with four of her friends. And her birthday party theme was, avocado! Not that she loves eating it, but she just loves it being nicely coloured. I guess. We didn't do much with the preparation, simply gathered whatever avocado we can find within the home as her decorative prop. It was also then that I realised her avocado collection is getting huge!


Avocado themed party

Epoxy resin is a two-component system consisting of resin and hardener. By mixing the two components, a chemical reaction takes place so that the liquid resin gradually hardens to a solid plastic. The result is a high-gloss and clear surface art. I bought the brand, ArtResin on Lazada. A popular brand of clear epoxy resin used by artists. It's non-toxic, but because it contains a small amount of Bisphenol A, it is recommended that you work in a well ventilated area with it. 

The art you can make out of resin is limitless. We didn't get too adventurous, we stuck to just using moulds to make little trays and coasters. I got most of the stuff from taobao, and below are the items and links used.

What you need for a resin party:

1. Epoxy resin and Harder (Lazada)
2. Gloves (Local pharmacy)
3. Moulds
4. Plastic cups
5. Wooden ice cream sticks
6. Colour pigment powder
7. Dried flowers
8. Weighing scale
 
Gloves are very much needed for resin play, because resin is stubborn to remove when it gets onto skin. Resin in Chinese is 水晶滴胶. You can do a search to find other more interesting tools for resin art. I bought the moulds, decorative stuffs from these 2 taobao links:

Materials needed

A variety of moulds

 Directions

1. Epoxy resin needs to be mixed in 1:1 ratio. The resin and harder have to be in equal portion before mixing. The plastic cups I bought did not come with measurement marks, it is best to weigh them equally on a weighing scale. If not, you will have to trust your eyes for the best estimated level mark, which can be a risky reliant. If the portions are not mixed equally well, the resin will not cure and harden well. 

2. Once the 2 components are mixed, use the wooden stick to stir the portion extremely well. Scrap the side of the cup to make sure it is well mixed. It is recommended to stir at least 3 minutes, but that could be lesser if the portion is small. You will have to gauge the amount of resin used from the mould size you are working with. 

3. After mixing, you may add in the coloured pigment powder. Adding too much color will get in the way of the resin curing and make it softer, so don't go generous on that. Slight tinting will do. Mix the colour well, and it's ready to go into the mould. If you are working on a big mould with ample depth, like a pencil holder, you may add the dried flowers in the mould before pouring the resin. If the mould is shallow, you may add the decorative elements after pouring the resin in the mould. Do remember that whatever you put within the mould can only be visible if the resin colour is light. You may leave it uncoloured too.

4. Set aside and allow it to cure up to at least 24 hours. 72 hours to be totally harden. 

Curing process
 

If the artwork is too soft or sticky to touch, which is most likely due to the unequal mix of resin and harder, you can try to salvage it by adding another well mixed layer over the affect area. Worst case, you may have to ditch it.

So yeap, resin art is one easy fun with endless creativity within! It kept the daughter and her friends very well occupied. 


Completed artwork

After some art fun, the girls did pinata, an avocado pinata of course! Shared the steps to DIY pinata in the son's birthday party post previously.  


Avocado pinata
 

And with much thanks to Sgtoysrock, the girls got to bring home a Real littles backpack (goodie bag) each. These micro bags contain tiny and cute usable stationery, with a range to collect. Hope the girls love it as much as Jazz! 


Real littles backpacks
 

Party planning isn't my forte, I find it stressful to be organising one, especially within the home. There are so many aspects to take care of. But occasions and milestones are moments that we can't recall once missed. It is better to create wonderful memories than letting it slide, perhaps this is one way we can show our support on their choice of friendships. And of course, we all have different ways of celebrating milestones. Some years we have it cosy within the family, and some special years with friends. 12th is special, isn't it? It a final primary school year.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Birthday Playdate at Play Nation

Planning a birthday party for 12 year olds can be quite a headache on activities and venue choices. The daughter was turning 12 and I felt so moved to want to do a little party for her, before she leaps onto 13 next year, where it will be a whole new milestone out of primary to secondary school. And parents' organised birthday parties will become a thing of the past. I'm building on her memory bank as much as I can before total independence sweeps her gradually away from my wings.

Jazz had 2 small parties, one at home with her school friends and one out, at Play Nation with her friends since babyhood. We considered various options before deciding that this venue was perfect for kids of their age. Play Nation is a games cafe that allows patrons to get on some fun with board games and game consoles. All completed with drinks, snacks and food! Free flow drinks and snacks, did I mention? 

Entrance of Play Nation Scape
 

Games they retail

 

Drinks and Snacks

 

Play Nation has a good variety of board games to choose from, as well as, console games such as Xbox, Switch and Wii-U. The console games list can be viewed by scanning a QR code, after which they informed the staff of their game choice/s, and the staff will get it set up! I left the kids all by themselves. Self-reminder, they are 12 years old. Fun is sometimes more crazy without parental supervision. They enjoyed, while I adjourned elsewhere for dinner with friends. 

 

Boardgame Choices
 

I booked Play Nation at Scape for 6 of them, but 1 friend couldn't make it last minute, so it was down to 5. They were given a partitioned room, which was almost like an exclusive room just for them. I do think their newest outlet at Tampines looks cooler and nicer though, but Scape is centrally located for her friends. No biggie, because they had so much fun regardless the venue. It was also most wonderful that there were 2 game consoles for the 5 of them. Everyone got to play throughout. Bring a jacket along, it is extremely cold in there.

 

Focused on gaming
 

Team boys

We took on the 3 hours play N dine package at $22.90++ per pax. It included 3 hours of board and console gaming, along with free flow drinks, snacks and one food choice. We booked from 7 to 10pm, so the kids had beef bolognese for dinner, which they said was tasty! They do have a good amount of food options, there is salmon teriyaki rice, fish and chips, chicken chop and pasta dishes, just to name a few. It basically solves my solution to a birthday playdate, with games, food and drinks all settled. Play out of home means I have no home mess to deal with. 

Outside food is not allowed in Play Nation, but I asked to bring a cake in and they allowed. I bought cupcakes as her birthday cake for easy handling. Making it easy for the kids to hold and savour, with no mess left for the staff. I came in at the last half hour to organise a cake singing and cutting session. A segment of the party which I'm clearly sure no one will take charge of when play is in. That was only parental involvement. Other than that, they were literally on their own. 

Cupcakes as cake

Thumbs up for Play Nation
 

Play Nation is a one stop, all-in-one party and playdate solution for tweenagers. Jazz was really grateful to have spent that evening with her friends at this games cafe. She told me, not once, but umpteen times that she wants to go back there to play! I think she is starting to enjoy the fun and companionship with her friends, while her parents sit out. Bleah. Oh well, I'm just glad that her friends and herself very much enjoyed this birthday playdate.

Stay wonderfully blessed, my darling! May you always be surrounded by the joy and love of your friends. 

 

PLAY NATION

PRINSEP
Opening Hours
Mon to Thu: 12 pm to 11 pm
Fri to Sat: 12 pm to 3 am
Sun: 12 pm to 10 pm
Contact: 6336 9578 
 
SCAPE
Opening Hours
Mon to Thu: 12 pm to 10 pm
Fri to Sat: 12 pm to1 am
Sun: 12 pm to 10 pm
Contact: 6634 3065

OTH (Our Tampines Hub)
Opening Hours
Mon to Thu: 11 am to 9 pm
Fri to Sat: 11 am to 12 am
Sun: 11 am to 10 pm
Contact: 6904 4885

 

Disclaimer: Sponsored post. All opinions and photos are solely ours based on our genuine experience.


Saturday, 20 March 2021

Gallop Extension at Singapore Botanic Gardens

It's been a long while since we visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the gardens that is the first UNESCO Heritage Site in Singapore. This March holiday, we visited its new feature, Gallop extension.

The Gallop Extension comprises of two conserved buildings that have been refurbished into the Botanical Art Gallery and Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum, the COMO Adventure Grove and Mingxin Rambler's Ridge. The art gallery and discovery centre are air-conditioned, so the best way to visit iss to get some crazy fun at COMO Adventure Grove before visiting the gallery and centre. 

COMO Adventure Grove
Lovely play garden nestled within the greens. When I first saw the welcoming giant fruit at a distance, I thought it was durian, as we moved on to other play section, I thought I saw many ang gu kuehs. What a truly Singapore play idea I thought! And of course, they were not what I had imagined them to be. They are cempedak and saga seeds. 
 
 
COMO Adventure Grove
 
Giant Cempedak
 

Doesn't this look a little like durian?

On a saga seed
 
Aren't they like durian and cempedak from a distance?! 

Kids can get on the warty giant fruit for a not so prickly walk, balance or roll on the saga seeds for some wobbly fun. And of course, swing, slide and climb on structures resembling the aerial roots of the Weeping Fig, or Ficus tree. There are two covered metal slides, probably the only sheltered area within and nearby. One slide is shorter and the other is longer. Kids will need to climb on ropes to get to the entrances of the slides, a higher and arduous climb lead to the longer slide. Our 4 year old did have some challenge trying to reach the higher slide entrance.

Was some problem solving moments for him though.
 
Roots everywhere

Slide fun

Needless to say, Js had most fun with this new found playground. Sweltering weather didn't bother them at all. Just remember to slap on sunscreen and bring gallons of water! 

There is a toilet nearby, up the climbing stairs towards one the of colonial houses, no. 7.  

Botanical Art Gallery 
The Botanical Art Gallery is housed within the second refurbished conserved building, Gallop House No. 7. It houses Singapore’s first permanent display of botanical art, where you will be able to see a selection of the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ collection that includes more than 2,000 botanical paintings, as well as hundreds of sketches, line drawings and photographs. The display will also showcase various art forms, from original watercolours and ink drawings to prints and printing blocks.
 
We missed visiting this, but we will at the next visit!

Gallop House No. 7
 

Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum 
If I can use an unconventional word to describe these colonial houses, I will say these black and white bungalows are handsome! Absolutely smart and good looking.

Gallop house no. 5 showcases Singapore’s forest ecosystems, and highlights the importance of conserving them. Through a series of interpretive and interactive displays, we learned about the Gardens’ historical role in conserving them. It was a great opportunity to know more about our topical rainforest, coastal and mangrove forests. Other highlights include a photographic installation of forest trees, family-friendly displays where we can know more about the common birds found locally, and videos featuring three distinctive forest habitats found in Singapore, and their unique flora and fauna. 

It isn't all just about plants and forests, but animal species too!

No. 5

Knowing the common birds in Singapore

Butterfly specimen

Exhibits

Listening attentively
 
photographic installation of forest trees

 
Mingxin Rambler's Ridge
For a little more adventure, we went on a mild hiking trail, descended the rocky steps and returned to the path where we came from. The trail is mostly sheltered by trees, so it was quite a cooling walk down. 

The ridge draws its inspiration from unique forest habitats on the tropical hills of Southeast Asia. Some of these environments, such as the Kerangas heath forests, are known for their harsh conditions, with poor soil and exposure to strong winds. As such, the plants that naturally occur in these landscapes have evolved fascinating adaptations.

We had a nice walk with it. 

Short trail

It's really wonderful to be having more outdoor playgrounds sprouting up. Our National park ministry did a great job in enticing more families to visit gardens and parks. Greenery and outdoor are always good for our little kids' eyes.

And don't forget to spend some time taking nice pictures within our beautiful gardens. 

Lovely garden we have

How to get there

TRAIN
Alight at Botanic Gardens station, walk towards Foliage Garden, towards Nassim gate visitor centre, then walk towards National Orchid Garden, head to the back and walk towards Gallop Extension. Alternatively, you may walk along Cluny Park Road and Tyersall Road to get there.
 
BUS
Buses: 7, 75, 77, 105, 106, 123, 174, 625
Stop: 13029 bef Tyersall Ave
Walk in via Tyersall Avenue

CAR
Park at the Learning Forest
It not a too long walk to Gallop extension

Opening Hours
 
COMO Adventure Grove: 7am to 7pm
Botanical Art Gallery: 9am to 6pm (Closed every last Thursday of the month)
Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum: 9am to 6pm (Closed every last Thursday of the month)
Mingxin Foundation Rambler's Ridge: 7am to 7pm

FREE admission for all